Friday, July 29, 2011

I want more ways to be wrong

I find that Kathryn Schultz in Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error has more interesting things to say about being wrong that I ever knew were possible.  I have read the mantras:
  • Mistakes are a sign of genuine progress in science and related fields.  Thomas Edison is reported to have said that he had not failed but had discovered 10,000 things that don't work.  It's like the yell "Clear" when the NCIS or FBI or CSI are searching for baddies in a house and shout that the room they are in has no enemies in it.
  • If you aren't making mistakes, you aren't trying hard enough or sometimes, you aren't taking enough risks.

Schultz has much more interesting and provocative things to say about error than these typical statements one hears.  Here she is at the TED Conference.  

Being wrong comes naturally to a man, you know, the sort of creature that if he is alone in the forest and says something, he is still wrong.  I have been wrong quite often about many things and I look forward to a bit of delicious error each day.

She notes that we all know the feeling of being wrong but that is when we REALIZE we have quite recently been wrong.  When we are actually wrong, it feels and looks just like being right.  And the moment you realize you are wrong, you aren't wrong in that same way.

I copied the highlights from Being Wrong from the Kindle highlights web site and put up a web page of them here.

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